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Hamiet Bluiett: Saying Something For All

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Among the major saxophonists to emerge in the past 25 years, Hamiet Bluiett’s also becoming one of the most ubiquitous, as these four recently re-leased CDs indicate. They illustrate his ability to work in varied settings too. Most of Saying Something was cut in 1977 with a duo including pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, although there are two unaccompanied baritone solos, one, “Requiem for Kent State,” from 1979. Live at Carlos 1 has him with pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Fred Hopkins, drummer Idrees Muhammad, and percussionist Chief Bey in 1986. The other two CDs were done lately.

Bluiett picked up ideas, directly or indirectly, from tenormen like John Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, Albert Ayler, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk and adapted them to baritone sax. He extended the upper register of the instrument, shrieking and squealing, emphasized using varied timbral effects, and employed multiphonics and circular breathing. His tone is big and dark like Harry Carney’s, and he likes to play loudly.

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